Arts and Entertainment Will.i.am onstage at the Capital FM Summertime Ball at Wembley in London.

Will.i.am, Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons are among the stars who have recorded new versions of celebrated protest songs to highlight issues of global poverty.

ROCK / She belted me with her hits, and I loved it

AS foregone conclusions go, the Pretenders' concert at Brixton Academy on Wednesday ranked with the Labour leadership contest. Last of the Independents (WEA) is one of their best albums and Chrissie Hynde has put her political concerns on the backburner in order to hot up her musical career. She wasn't likely to screw up her first major tour for eight years, and she didn't.

Media Viewpoint: Music to slash your wrists by

If ever there was an area of the arts crying out for Prozac, it's country music. These dirges of self-loathing and self- longing, emanating from deep cleavages and checked shirts, are a depressive's dream. Wherever a Dolly Parton song breasts into earshot, thoughts of wrist-slashing creep to mind. Country music is emotional, mental and spiritual Hades.

ROCK / Costello and the distractions

NO WONDER Elvis Costello and the Attractions broke up. Costello must have got tired of being upstaged all the time. The worst culprit is Steve Nieve, the keyboard player. Costello wears a black jacket and specs; Nieve sports a spotlight-catching white jacket and shades. Costello swaps from acoustic to electric guitar between songs; Nieve flits between three different synthesisers in as many bars. As befits the musical director of Jonathan Ross's Incredibly Strange Film Show, Nieve is a cross between Igor and the Phantom of the Opera. He ducks and pounces from keyboard to keyboard, bursting into the arrangement with two-handed chromatic scales, circus swirls, and boogie-woogie frills. So that's why Costello always looks so angry. I bet he never had this trouble with the Brodsky Quartet.

Man is held after five are shot at pop festival

A MAN was being questioned by police last night after five people were shot at the Glastonbury pop festival.

Too many people are paid to have opinions

'WHAT WAS going on between me and the record company,' observed Mark King of the pop group Level 42 in a recent interview, 'was exactly the same as what goes on in Bosnia or Northern Ireland.' Which means that what goes on in Bosnia - and those who have spent months struggling with news reports will be eternally grateful to Mr King for the clarification - is that someone (the Croats?) made a record that someone else (the Serbs? the Muslims?) didn't like, and they wouldn't release it, and then it all got right out of hand, and. . . well, you know the rest.

COMEDY / Outsider trading: James Rampton meets Greg Proops, an American in Barrow-in-Furness and the latest graduate of the Whose Line academy

Greg Proops is an American stand-up perplexed by the British. 'It's your apologetic nature that's so weird,' he muses, 'that over-developed sense of embarrassment. On the London Underground, there are these signs that say, 'If you don't pay your fare, everyone is gonna look at you'. The idea of that as an ad campaign on, say, the New York Subway is ridiculous. They'd just shout, 'I don't care who's looking at me, I'll shoot 'em'.'

Riffs: Tasmin Archer on the range of Elvis Costello's 'All Grown Up'

MY interpretation is that this is about a young girl who is looking at her life and is disappointed, and she's become really bitter. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and used to daydream about what I'd like to do - marrying, having kids, being a singer-songwriter. I think a lot of girls can identify with the girl in the song, because more than men they tend to get introverted when they're knocked back, they think 'I'm never going out with anyone again' sort of thing.

I used to have a recurring nightmare; these days I get melodies in my mind: Susan de Muth in bed with Tasmin Archer

TASMIN ARCHER, 30, is a singer/songwriter. She was voted this year's 'Best Newcomer' at the Brit Awards. She lives near Leeds with a fellow band member, John Hughes. Her new EP, 'Shipbuilding', is released today on the EMI label.

ROCK / Juliet strings Elvis along

FIRST JOHN Cale, now Elvis Costello, and in two weeks, believe it or not, Duran Duran; these days no self-respecting rock visionary leaves the house without a string quartet. It's not just high cultural Brownie points they're after, but freedom from the tyranny of the back-beat. Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet emerge from the wedding cake splendour of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, with a real sense of liberation. Over the last decade Costello's talent has atrophied, but the ponderous-seeming conceit of The Juliet Letters has miraculously restored his lightness of spirit.

ROCK / Pushing back the envelope: Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet, live

'THIS is the first night of the Juliet Letters tour,' says Elvis Costello, standing on the stage of Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall with the Brodsky Quartet around him. 'And boy, are we nervous.' And at this point, people in the auditorium are looking a bit twitchy too, if only because, in the venue's tensed hush, it's painfully obvious that someone, somewhere, at some point, is going to call out for 'Oliver's Army'.

Flares: the comeback (walking back to happiness)

I WAS a schoolboy in short trousers the last time it happened; a little kid living in a pre- adolescent dream of bubblegum cards and catapults. So don't ask me how it happened. One day it just did; one day, everything was fine, and the next day, something had changed in the section of the national consciousness that deals with trousers. By the time I was old enough to choose my own clothes, the whole thing was already stitched up. Flares were the norm.

RECORDS / Rock: Paul McCartney - Off the Ground (Parlophone PCSD 125)

Paul McCartney Produces Album Not Entirely Devoid Of Interest Shock] The unspeakable single 'Hope of Deliverance' was obviously a cunning ploy to lull his admirers into a false sense of insecurity, because among the usual tame rockers and anodyne smooch-fests here, there is actually the odd surprise. 'Mistress and Maid', one of two songwriting collaborations with Elvis Costello, speaks up for dissatisfied womanhood - something of a departure for both parties - and on the Animal Experiments Are Bad shocker 'Looking for Changes', Paul is actually heard to use the word 'bastard'. The album finishes on a real upward curve with the spirited 'Winedark Open Sea' and a couple of treats for fans of McCartney's old band. The otherwise ludicrous 'C'mon People' ('Call all the minstrels from the ancient shrine' indeed) boasts a lovely big orchestral finale with George Martin conducting; the concluding Lennonist romp 'Cosmically Conscious' is a real blast from the past.

Academic waxes lyrical about pop's meaning: David Lister finds the message in the medium as musicologists join for an evening of deconstruction

WEDNESDAY night at the Royal Festival Hall. And all musical life was there. On stage the BBC Symphony Orchestra was performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 5. In a neighbouring room nearly 100 musicologists were analysing a recording of punk rock star Poly Styrene singing 'Oh Bondage] Up Yours'.

ARTS / Take a Letter, Mr Costello: Elvis Costello, rock's Mr Sneery, has a new band. There are four of them, and they all play strings. Their first LP could have been awful. But it's excellent - and genuinely new

THE CALL from San Francisco made Elvis Costello's day. Ten years ago, the news that a mainstream West Coast pop radio station had put two of his latest songs on its playlist would not have caused his heart to beat a little faster; today, in the bar of a Holland Park hotel, he can't conceal his glee. 'That's great,' he chuckles down the phone. 'Both 'Romeo's Seance' and 'Jacksons, Monk and Rowe'. There'll be crowds at the airport]'
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